Monday, September 17, 2012

The Case of Preston Hughes III: The Gingerbread Man

"Run, run, fast as you can.
"You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!"
                            - The Gingerbread Man

The Gingerbread Man had quite a story to tell. Sadly, he is no longer around to tell it, so I'll fill in the best that I can.

As The Gingerbread Man regained consciousness, after being subjected to a burning oven, a little old lady was preparing to eat him. He hopped to his feet and ran like the wind. Behind him, he could hear the little old lady yelling "Stop! Stop! I want to eat you."

It was at that time that The Gingerbread Man, hereafter known as TGM, uttered the taunt that would make him famous throughout the ages.

"Run, Run, fast as you can.
"You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!"

As he ran outside he encountered a little old man. The little old man also wanted to eat him, so he taunted the old man as well. I'll not repeat the taunt each time, but you get the idea.

Then TGM ran past the pigsty, and the pig wanted to eat him.

[Insert taunt here.]

Then he ran past a dog. Same story.

And a cow. Same story, same taunt.

Soon he came to a mighty river, and he was in a bit of a bind. Behind him were an old woman, an old man, a pig, a dog, and a cow. All of them wanted to eat him alive. In front of him was the mighty river, and he certainly didn't want to go in there. He would melt away for sure.

To complicate matters, there was a fox standing between him and the mighty river. TGM was a bit wary, since foxes are known for their cleverness and guile (C&G). In this case though, the fox seemed sincerely well-intentioned. It didn't want to eat him alive. It wanted only to help him. It offered to save him by allowing him to ride on its tail as it swam across the mighty river.

If TGM would simply hop on its tail, if TGM would only do that an nothing more, then TGM would be safely transported across the mighty river and would there be allowed to run free.

TGM was in a pretty tough spot. He had voracious mammals of all sorts pursuing him, and a mighty river before him. Now he had a fox offering to help, but foxes are well-known for their C&G.

But there's an amazing twist/turn to this story, one never before told. TGM had already once been saved by a fox. That's right. As hard as it is to believe, TGM had previously been in a quite similar bind. The voracious mammals behind him had not been so many, and the river before him had not been so mighty, but other than that the binds were quite similar. There had been a fox at that not-so-mighty river as well, and that fox had offered to help him gain his freedom.

And sure enough, in that earlier case situation, the fox had carried TGM to freedom.

Now it was happening all over again. All that TGM had to do was to sign a confession in which he described the stabbing as an accident hop on the fox's fluffy tail.

Having little choice, given the alternative, and having been previously granted his freedom for pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit hopping aboard a fluffy tail, TGM jumped at the opportunity.

With TGM now onboard, the fox eagerly leaped into the mighty river and began swimming across, all the while holding his fluffy tail high in the water, all the while causing TGM to believe he had been saved.

For TGM there was no going back. It was too late to change his mind. He was surrounded by the mighty river. And, as it turns out, the river was full of alligators and crocodiles. And water moccasins. And molten lava.

But TGM was confident he had made the right decision. Soon he would be on the other side of this fearsome river and he would be free. And that would be a good thing too, because his employer would be expecting him. He had already missed one day of work because that little old lady had arrested him cooked him, and he didn't want to get fired. So he pulled out his cell phone and called his boss. He told his boss that he had experienced a bit of bother, that he had missed work because of that bother, but that he would not miss any more.

The greedy, profit-driven, capitalistic boss said: "Okay."

TGM was relieved. He realized he should call his parole officer as well, and maybe even his mother. It never occurred to him that he should have called a lawyer earlier.

Particularly when he was dealing with the fox, for foxes are known for their C&G. 

Once they were well away from the shore, the sly and cunning fox suddenly reneged on the deal. It suddenly told him that he would have to sign a second, more damaging confession that it was unable to keep its fluffy tail above water any longer, and that he should hop inside the fox's mouth.

If he wanted to be free.

And, believing he had no choice, he did exactly what the fox instructed him to do.

And on November 15, 2012, the State and people of Texas are going to stick a needle in his arm and inject lethal chemicals the fox swallowed him, and smiled a contented smile. For foxes are known for their cleverness and guile.

*** THE END ***

Author's Note:
This story may have been inspired by a real-life murder case in which the suspect was threatened with life behind bars if he did not confess, and offered freedom if he did. The confession seemed innocent enough. The suspect would only need claim he had stabbed a 15 year old girl when he thought he was stabbing a black, male assailant. It wasn't an ideal situation for the suspect, but the suspect felt he had no choice. He had a mountain of manufactured evidence behind him, and a seemingly innocent enough confession in front of him.

So the suspect signed the confession. He then called his boss, just as the gingerbread man called his boss. The parallels are too striking to be coincidence. The suspect told his boss that he would not be able to work that day, but would be able to work the next. From the trial testimony:
[H]e just said he had been picked up by the police and that he would probably be able to be in to work the next day.
In the classic fairy tale, the fox seems to be a metaphor for the police, and the fluffy tail seems to be a metaphor for the first confession. In the fairy tail, the gingerbread man was told the rules had changed, that he could save himself only by jumping in the fox's mouth. In the murder case, the suspect was told that he would have to modify his statement, and not just by a little bit. The suspect would have to change his statement in life-threatening fashion.

As I said before, the parallels are simply to striking to be coincidental.

I quote once again from the trial transcripts. This time I quote from a co-worker of the suspect's mother. The suspect had not been freed after signing the first confession, as promised. Instead, he had been jailed. He was calling collect from a pay phone located in that jail, trying to reach his mother.
He was telling me that he had to change his statement and I was asking him, "You gave a statement?" And he said, "They're telling me to change my statement. I have to go to change my statement."
And the suspect did just as he was told.

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Anonymous said...


Great post TSJ. Love TGM metaphor. You should re-link the post about sucking the bones. I think new (or even older) readers might find it very hard to believe someone would confess to a crime they didn’t commit. I would have never believed it until I found this blog,

If you don’t believe you should see the post The Unindicted Co-ejaculator. Take the time to watch the PBS Frontline show on the Norfolk 4.

If you are ever arrested repeat the following until you get a lawyer: LAWYER! Even if you didn’t do ANYTHING, LAWYER!

Rubber Duck

Ps. TSJ Feel free to edit a little to add links and what not.

Anonymous said...

Murder is not a fairytale. Please present evidence.

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